CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Maryland volleyball team had its eyes set on a major upset victory, but fell just short Friday night as No. 14 North Carolina outlasted the Terps in a five-set thriller (21-25, 25-13, 25-23, 21-25, 15-11) at the Dean E. Smith Center.
The ACC’s team leader in blocks this season, Maryland (11-10, 3-6 ACC) tallied 14.5 blocks in the effort. Junior Ashleigh Crutcher led the way with 16 kills, while senior Sarah Harper had 17 digs and freshman Whitney Craigo had 19 assists.
Undaunted by the guise of the “Dean Dome” and nationally ranked North Carolina (19-1, 8-1), the Terrapins came out with something to prove as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set on a pair of Crutcher kills. The Tar Heels battled back to tie the set at 15, but Maryland mounted a 5-1 run to take a 20-16 lead en route to winning the set, 25-21.
UNC came back with a vengeance in the second frame, however, as it sprinted out to an improbable 19-5 advantage. The Heels hit at a .370 clip in the set, while the Terps managed just seven kills as they lost, 25-13.
The third frame appeared to be headed in the same direction as North Carolina owned a 16-9 lead early, but the Terps courageously battled back to cut their deficit to one point, 24-23. The comeback fell just short, however, as Kayla Berringer fired a kill to give the Tar Heels a 2-1 match lead.
Maryland fought valiantly with its backs against the wall in the fourth set, led by four kills from Adreene Elliott. Craigo fired three service aces in the frame as the Terps forced the decisive fifth set, 25-21.
Maryland was poised to knock off the home team with the match squared at 10-10 in the fifth set, but the Tar Heels had other ideas. North Carolina rattled off four consecutive points before taking the match, 15-11.
The Terps will have a short turnaround as they return to action tomorrow night against N.C. State at 5:00 p.m.